Dubai Airports’ chief executive slammed the United Kingdom’s decision to maintain the UAE on its international travel “red” list, citing new data from the company showing passenger traffic through the airport dropped 67.8 percent in the first quarter.
“I believe the approach is incorrect,” Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths told Dubai Eye Radio on Thursday, expressing annoyance with the law, which prohibits air travel or requires thousands of British nationals in the Emirates to undergo an expensive quarantine upon arrival.
Despite declining cases and the world’s second-fastest vaccination rate, UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps suggested that the UAE could remain on the list due to its position as an international transit hub.
When asked to respond, Griffiths said, “I can’t be too candid with you about my thoughts on those remarks.” “We have made very clear representations to the British government about the accuracy of the figures here and our handling of everything.”
Griffiths urged for a “significantly more constructive relationship” to resolve the uncertainty around the verdict, as public outrage rises. The UAE remains on the United Kingdom’s red list, despite Abu Dhabi’s own “gold” list of travel destinations.
“There are countries on the (United Kingdom) green list that we believe have not taken the same level of precaution and implemented the same number of safeguards as we have here in Dubai to keep everybody safe,” Griffiths said. “It’s just not realistic in terms of reestablishing life as we knew it.”
Foreign Office and Transport Ministry spokespeople were not immediately available for comment when CNBC reached out to them. Shapps said last week: “We are not restricting travel to the UAE due to the high level of coronavirus in the UAE.” It is a matter of transit.”
Currently, the United Kingdom’s Foreign Office “advises against anything but necessary travel to the entire United Arab Emirates based on the latest evaluation of COVID-19 threats.”
The UAE has provided over 9.9 million vaccine doses to its nearly 10 million citizens, placing it second only to Israel in the global vaccination race. Residents of Dubai can choose between the Sinopharm vaccine manufactured in China, the AstraZeneca vaccine produced in the United Kingdom, the American-German-made Pfizer vaccine, or Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, whereas residents of Abu Dhabi previously had only Sinopharm available before Pfizer was launched in the capital emirate last week.
Some members of the medical community have questioned the Sinopharm shot’s effectiveness, citing contradictory evidence from interim trials and a lack of reported data from its phase 3 trials. The World Health Organization has not yet approved it.
Costs both economic and personal.
The United Kingdom’s list, which will be checked in the coming weeks, includes 40 countries considered too dangerous to visit, including India, which is undergoing a national crisis as a result of rising infection rates and an increasing death toll.
The ban also had practical implications for Dubai Airports, which refers to London as a “critical single city” for passenger traffic at Dubai Airport. Prior to the pandemic, Griffiths said, more than 6 million people flew between the two cities each year.
“It’s almost unbelievable that we don’t have a reliable air bridge connecting us to the United Kingdom, with 28 flights per day,” Griffiths said. “Of course, the irony is that you can travel to Scotland but not to England.”
“It’s clearly something that everybody in Dubai is worried about rapidly resolving.”
The decision also affects a large number of the approximately 120,000 British nationals living and working in the UAE, as well as their family members, who have expressed confusion and anger, especially regarding the hotel quarantine requirement, which costs £1,750 ($2,428) per person.